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This came up in a rather heated and sideways manner on another thread, but I think it would be useful to have a thread about *solutions* for extreme or apparently insurmountable vet bills, however much that may be for an individual case. Nobody's financial status is *ever* completely secure, and even emergency funds run dry unexpectedly sometimes for us all, so please no shaming or blanket assumptions about the supposed immorality of not being able to afford vet care.

There is a stickied thread about Care Credit at the top of this forum, which is a financing plan. I also really liked some of the Humane Society's suggestions, which I haven't seen mentioned here yet.

For example, if you have wheels or a good and pet-friendly local public transportation system, you might well be able to find more affordable vet care in a nearby community. (VERY much the case where I live, US Midwest/Great Lakes region). If you are having trouble finding one on your own, trying asking your neighbors, pet store employees, or volunteers at the local shelter for a vet recommendation.

Another option is to contact a breed rescue group, many of whom are committed to helping dogs stay with their original owners if possible. They often have suggestions for discount-rate but NOT discount-quality vet care, and/or connections with organizations to help people continue to care for their pets during tough financial or medical (human or canine) circumstances. This was very useful to my family when my childhood pet's ongoing renal problems escalated at the same time my own health fell off a cliff.

Some organizations are specifically geared to help seniors on fixed incomes or with limited mobility care for their pets, whether it is help with vet bills or stopping by to take a dog for a long walk. So that is something else to consider, should that be your situation.

I think it's pretty clear that many of us depend on our dogs just as much as they depend on us, if in a different way, and I just wanted to promote some ideas for making sure we all get to continue!
 

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I don't know how great of a solution this may be but one option is to get the Banfield Wellness Plan. The Banfield vets are located within a great deal of Petsmart stores. You pay $35/month per pet but that includes vet visits, any medicine they need to take, emergency visits, flea medicine and it takes a great percentage off surgeries as well. You can also choose different plans but I believe that $35/month is the lowest one available. Just thought I would throw that one out there.
 

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Well, I have to say I thought it was a really good idea to start this thread, so I will offer a couple of ideas.

One thing you can do, is once you have established what you are going to use for regular heartworm prevention medication and flea-tick preventative you can often get these supplies a bit cheaper on-line. Of course you still need to go to your vet at least once a year for a the 4dx snap test to check for heartworm and the tick diseases.

And if you are willing to do a bit of calculating you can save additional money. For example, I buy Frontline plus for the largest sized dog. Then I take a syringe and measure out the appropriate dose of this for each of my dogs indivitually. I find I can get both dogs covered with just the one dose divided accordingly. I like this system for more than just the money savings but also because the smooth nozzle of the syringe (no needle) is nicer to apply the Frontline on my dogs than the sharper plastic of the foil packet.
 

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I don't know how great of a solution this may be but one option is to get the Banfield Wellness Plan. The Banfield vets are located within a great deal of Petsmart stores. You pay $35/month per pet but that includes vet visits, any medicine they need to take, emergency visits, flea medicine and it takes a great percentage off surgeries as well. You can also choose different plans but I believe that $35/month is the lowest one available. Just thought I would throw that one out there.
I would love to hear about people's experiences with this. I wonder if you can do it with any age dog. It seems like there must be limits, but then if you're having to pay for treatments and surgeries maybe the older dogs pay for themselves anyway. Very interesting! I would be torn, though, as we've been going to the same vet for almost ten years and I really like her (dogs are not so sure!). I feel like she's supported us through so much, though, and I feel kinda loyal to her.
 

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Tess we did that with the comfortis pills...we bought for a 40 lb dog (ours is 20). We didn't do this on our own...my nephew works as a vet tech when he's home from college and he told the receptionist how big my dog was and they gave me the next size up and told him to get me to split the pills.

I don't know how much the biannual heartworm shot is but I think it's cheaper than the monthly preventative. I know some people don't like it but I really like not worrying about forgetting heartworm pills!
 

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Another tip would be do your homework. Simple example, our vet wanted to charge us $40 dollars for 6 mths of Iverhart. I checked with 1800petmeds, and drfosterandsmith.com and they had it for 19.99!!!! I called the vet, asked them to price match (my mom's vet does)..they said no, then I asked them to send over the RX to drfosterandsmith. IF they were to decline, I'd find another vet. I didn't mind having to order it and saved $20 dollars.
 

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RE: I bought ASPCA pet insurance but I know VPI is just as good if not better!
It is about 35.00 a month and it has saved us thousands of dollars for our liver failure ER with Addison. I don't know about Banfield...but I was kind of appalled at the doggy day care scene I came across at PetSmart and the ignorance of the dog watchers...to the point where I made a complaint that almost involved the ASPCA. It is a chain and profit is the major motive, just like a lot of current nursing home chains...I would be very careful with "franchises" as turn over can be high with the staff.

What a great thread!
 

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Another tip would be do your homework. Simple example, our vet wanted to charge us $40 dollars for 6 mths of Iverhart. I checked with 1800petmeds, and drfosterandsmith.com and they had it for 19.99!!!! I called the vet, asked them to price match (my mom's vet does)..they said no, then I asked them to send over the RX to drfosterandsmith. IF they were to decline, I'd find another vet. I didn't mind having to order it and saved $20 dollars.
I got a similar deal of inverhart plus on 1800 petmeds, like $50 for a years worth. My vet gave me a very hard time and offered me their amazing deal of $90 for the same brand and amount. I declined and I picked up the paper Rx,the receptionist and gave me an ear full and sent me home with several pamphlets about horror over buying from online pharmacies.
 
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I got a similar deal of inverhart plus on 1800 petmeds, like $50 for a years worth. My vet gave me a very hard time and offered me their amazing deal of $90 for the same brand and amount. I declined and I picked up the paper Rx,the receptionist and gave me an ear full and sent me home with several pamphlets about horror over buying from online pharmacies.

They will try to do their best to discourage you from buying online since they are losing money that way. It's not like your buying from ebay or something though. These are trusted sites.

1800 pet meds was more expensive than drf&s though so we went with them. Great service too..
Iverhart Plus® Tablets (Generic)
 

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For regular shots and check ups there are low income vet areas that will give your pets their shots at a low cost. My sister does this for her cats. The vet office will do it once a month, offer the shots for $10 per animal. Might be able to look into that as well in your local areas
 

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I have pet insurance too from Pet First. The deal is $15 a month, with a $50 deductible but it only works with injuries or health issues so I cant use it for regular check ups. Its great and I have saved a ton since Maggie tends to have a lot of tummy issues and she got bit by another dog once. I also have CareCredit. I pay the initial bill with the Carecredit card, then I submit the insurance paper work and pay off the carecredit bill with the insurance money plus $50 for the deductible. The only things I have found that my Pet First plan does not cover are 1) the rabies booster maggie had to get when she got the dog bite since it them counted for 3 years and 2) dog probiotic powder to help build her stomach bacteria back up from her tummy issues at the beginning of the summer.

I am a college student so I have found this system of CareCredit and pet insurance to be very help with bills and worries. My biggest issue was about any emergency incidents. I was always nervous that some freak accident would happen and I wouldn't be able to pay the vet bills. Also I have found preventative things to be helpful (so far) things like teeth brushing and ear cleaning. Maggie's a hound dog and the vet always comments on her clean ears. Also keeping a good body weight is good for joint health, but I am sure most people know that.
 

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i suggest doing your homework when you choose a vet. i am extremely lucky with who i use for my guys! he has no problem with me getting meds cheaper and such, and he always breaks treatments down with costs vs effectiveness... he's even helped me to find cheaper ways of treating my guys, where appropriate. the other dr's in his office have similar attitudes toward it. this tells me, that he is more concerned with my pet's health than his pocketbook, and though he costs a bit more (slt is expensive) that it would be for me to drive into carson city (30 min or so) i feel i can trust him to help me make the best decisions for my pet's care, which ultimately saves money in the long run.

also, the office provides on-call vet care for emergencies, which means i don't have to rush my guys to the e-vet (that's in carson city too) to see a strange vet who doesn't know their history, and though they charge an emergency fee (it's an extra $50) i imagine it is much less expensive to go that route!
 

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Do you have any suggestions on how to pick a good vet?

I absolutely hate my vet. The treat me like a customer and I feel like I need to fight them off, every two seconds they are trying to sell me things that I don't need. When I was bringing Maggie for her puppy visits I told the vet that I felt Maggie had some issues digesting fillers since she was always sick when she ate lower quality dog foods and treats. I asked for suggestions and he told me to go to the dog food isle in Walmart and pick out a bag of food, he suggested pedigree. I mean it may work for some dogs but I just told him Maggie has trouble with fillers.

Unfortunately they are to only vet in the area, they have three different offices that are close. I am moving soon and I will be changing vets but I don't know how to tell which vets are good before I have to go there.
 
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hmm... i don't want to stray too far from the topic at hand, but it does sort of apply...

i'd start by looking online for a list of all the vets in the new area, maybe even include some you'd have to drive to, then list some aspects you are looking for, important stuff for me,

do they have more than one DR in the office, and how do they work out who you/your dog sees?

do they provide on-call service at their office or refer you to an e-vet?

do they provide boarding?

can they see all of your pets? (do you have any "exotic" pets, like rabbits or reptiles?)

from there, i'd go with word of mouth (if you can) ask around anywhere you do business... and don't limit it to pet focused places... i work at a bank, and i tell anyone who is asking how much i love my vet. local shelters and trainers often promote vets they like dealing with too... so do pet/pet supply stores.

finally, it's sort of up to how your visit goes, how well my questions are answered, how my pets are treated... my dog is large and can be difficult to handle, my vet has always opted to allow me to restrain him for them, lots and lots of trust on their part, and it makes it much easier on clover.

can't think of anything else at the moment, but i hope that helps
 

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aclarino...
I called about 7-8 vets when we moved and I priced the exact service I needed. One vet was way cheaper than the rest and it was about 10 more minutes drive to the country. I have been really pleased- their kindness is unreal and the vet calls me on the phone and talks a long time if he ever has to check into something for me. He's just really sweet. I had been going there for years when I looked up and saw that he had been president of the TX vet association...while we were going there...and they never made a big deal about it or anything...just a little piece of paper on the wall. They are great and his partner vet is great, too. They work with a lot of livestock owners and to me that kind of vet has a predisposition to the idea they are a partnership with the owner since most livestock owners have to do a lot of vet type care themselves and have a lot of knowledge about the animals in their care. I feel like we are working together vs. him telling me what to do and pushing stuff on me. So call around and price a service & then don't be afraid to contact vets that do large animals too and not just pets.
 

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Sometimes the drive is worth it! I have a vet not even a mile from my house but I choose to take my dog 30 min away because the vet in our town is rude and rarely open anyway. The vet I go to is small but everyone is so nice and competent and the prices are very reasonable! It's $65 for Teddy to get neutered here.
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Just a few more links for assistance with Vet bills. I'm sure there will be some overlap with what Sundog poststed!:)

Lists of organizations that help people pay vet bills:
http://www.aspca.org/about-us/faq/financial-help-vet-bills.aspx
Vet Bill Assistance - LEASH Animal Rescue

Lists or search for low cost spay/neuter programs:
Low cost or free spay-neuter programs in U.S. for pet and feral cats listed by state and area code . Love That Cat Store
Locate Affordable, Low Cost Spay / Neuter Resources
 

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Stay informed of what is available in your area. If that means reading newspapers, visiting your vet offices or talking with other pet owners. Our animal shelter just aquired new ownership (Thank you God) and they are in the process of really making positive things happen. They applied for and were approved for a grant to cover the cost of spay and neutering for unaltered already owned pets. Residents just have to apply and get approved. Our local vets have even lowered the rate for residents who are approved pay close to zero out of pocket.
Both vets also offer 'shot clinics' where they spend a Sat. giving reduced costs vacinations and wellness checks. They stagger their clinics so each one is 6 months apart.
Great thread!
 

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Before going to the new vet check their status of patient satisfaction online by going to YELP and they should also have ratings for patient reviews! Our County animal control has once a month low cost vaccinations and spaying/neutering, first come first serve, but worth it!

I left a vet because the Dr./lady was yelling at me and shaming me as my cat was in renal failure....she shut up when I told her Turbo was 19 years old...and then there's more to that story but it is a new thread.
 

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Does anyone know if there is a Canadian substitute to 1-800-PET-MEDS? Admittedly, I have been a bit lack in flea/heartworm preventative for my crew because the total cost of it all for both dogs and the cat was about $400. Of course, every time I start to get a bit of extra money together, something comes up.
 
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